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Trump’s Budget Proposal Puts War Machine and Wall First, Society’s Most Vulnerable Members Last

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Donald Trump’s $1.15 trillion budget cuts programs that help those in need while redirecting billions to waging a war on undocumented immigrants, in what Truthdig Editor-in-Chief Robert Scheer describes in an email to staff as “the uprooting of a people on a scale never before witnessed in this nation’s history.”

Trump’s main campaign promise, the wall along the border with Mexico, will receive $2 billion to start (where it will get the other $10 to $13 billion more Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell conservatively estimates the project will require is still up in the air), while the administration plans to hire “100 new government lawyers, add 1,500 law enforcement officials and spend more than $1 billion on detention and deportation.” The extra spending on detaining undocumented immigrants represents a boon for the prison industrial complex, while another well known industrial complex, the U.S. military, will receive $54 billion in the name of securing the nation from enemies such as Islamic State.

So while the president’s “Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again” will bolster the Defense Department, Department of Homeland Security and Department of Veterans Affairs, every other cabinet agency in the nation (in other words, 12 out of 15) will suffer devastating cuts. The plan will aim to get rid of “the National Endowment for the Arts, legal aid for the poor, low-income heating assistance and the AmeriCorps national service program established by former President Bill Clinton,” as well significantly affect the Environmental Protection Agency, according to the Associated Press.

Interestingly, even though the Department of Homeland Security will receive more taxpayer money, The New York Times reports that “agencies within the department would face cuts — including $667 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s state and local grant programs, and $80 million from the T.S.A.”

Here’s some more information on regarding Trump’s immigration spending plans (and lack thereof), from The New York Times:

Mr. Trump also is seeking to cut $1 billion from the Justice Department, even as he bolsters its immigration courts by $80 million. That would pay for the hiring of 75 new teams of judges to speed removal proceedings for people in the country illegally.

Though it does not offer a price tag, the budget also calls for an additional 60 border enforcement prosecutors and 40 United States Marshals to help apprehend and convict those in the country illegally who commit crimes.

Beyond the funds for detentions in the proposed Homeland Security budget, Mr. Trump is calling for the Justice Department to spend $171 million for short-term holding facilities for federal detainees, including those who are here illegally.

And foreshadowing what could be years of bitter legal fights with landowners from Texas to California, Mr. Trump wants to hire 20 lawyers to obtain land in the Southwest on which to build the wall or other security facilities.

Despite its size and scope, the proposal leaves unanswered how Mr. Trump would reach several of his most prominently stated goals, including the wall’s prompt construction and the quick hiring of 5,000 additional Border Patrol agents and 10,000 new Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers. … It was similarly unclear how the administration intends to meet or pay for Mr. Trump’s hiring goals for I.C.E. and the Border Patrol. R. Gil Kerlikowske, who served as former President Barack Obama’s commissioner of the United States Customs and Border Protection agency, said that when he left the agency in January, it was struggling to fill already budgeted positions, much less drastically expand the work force and infrastructure supporting it.

The Associated Press elaborates on what the president’s plan left out, as well as the expected reactions in Congress:

Trump’s proposal covers only roughly one-fourth of the approximately $4 trillion federal budget, the discretionary portion that Congress passes each year. It doesn’t address taxes, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, or make predictions about deficits and the economy. Those big-picture details are due in mid-May, and are sure to show large — probably permanent — budget deficits. Trump has vowed not to cut Social Security and Medicare and is dead set against raising taxes. … Trump’s proposal is sure to land with a thud on Capitol Hill, and not just with opposition Democrats outraged over cuts to pet programs such as renewable energy, climate change research and rehabilitation of housing projects.

Republicans like Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio are irate over planned elimination of a program to restore the Great Lakes. Top Republicans like Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker of Tennessee are opposed to drastic cuts to foreign aid. And even GOP defense hawks like Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry of Texas aren’t satisfied with the $54 billion increase for the military.

Before the two sides go to war over Trump’s 2018 plan, they need to clean up more than $1.1 trillion in unfinished agency budgets for the current year. A temporary catchall spending bill expires April 28; negotiations have barely started and could get hung up over Trump’s request for the wall and additional border patrol and immigration enforcement agents, just for starters.

Some of the most politically sensitive domestic programs would be spared, including food aid for pregnant women and their children, housing vouchers for the poor, aid for special education and school districts for the poor, and federal aid to historically black colleges and universities.

But the National Institutes of Health would absorb a $5.8 billion cut despite Trump’s talk in a recent address to Congress of finding “cures to the illnesses that have always plagued us.” Subsidies for airlines serving rural airports in Trump strongholds would be eliminated. Also zeroed out would be funding for subsidies of Amtrak’s money-losing long-distance routes, and a $500 million per-year “TIGER Grant” program for highway projects created by Obama.

— Posted by Natasha Hakimi Zapata

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